DeSantis accused of leveraging University of Florida trustees for $100K donations: report

DeSantis accused of leveraging University of Florida trustees for $100K donations: report
Ron DeSantis speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Gage Skidmore

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) reportedly attempted to leverage more than six figures in campaign donations over members of the Boards of Trustees for Florida's public university system, according to allegations brought forward by Nikki Fried.

On Tuesday, December 14, Fried —Florida's agriculture commissioner and a Democratic candidate for governor— attended a virtual town hall hosted by the United Faculty of Florida Union. During the event, Fried shared details about the allegations. "I don't know if this is as public. You all should know," Fried said.

She went on to explain the alleged amount trustees were reportedly required to give to the Republican governor's re-election campaign.

"Our current boards of trustees across the state were required to give a campaign contribution to Ron DeSantis in the amount of $100,000," she continued. "And if they didn't give him the campaign contribution, they were not reappointed to the boards. That is what we are dealing with here in the state of Florida with this Governor."

Fried's allegation follows similar allegations from Scott Powers of Florida Politics. Business Insider breaks down the allegation and why it differs from traditional campaign donations.

"It is entirely legal for someone to donate tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to a prospective governor's campaign and then receive a state government appointment, but threatening current board of trustee members over reelection donations is a far more serious charge."

Although Fried opted not to provide further comment on the allegations, one of her campaign spokespersons reiterated the claim. In an emailed statement, campaign spokesperson Drew Godinich weighed in.

"DeSantis' appointments are stacked with his biggest donors — and the Boards of Trustees are no different," Drew Godinich, the campaign spokesperson, told Insider in an email. "DeSantis' corruption knows no limits — even when it means compromising on Floridians' schools."

During the virtual event, Fried stated a promise of her own. "While I won't be able to immediately fire them all," she said, "certainly when their reappointments come in play, I will not be reappointing those members of boards of trustees that are all campaign donors to the Republican Party."

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